Monday, November 26, 2012

November Sun

A combination of reasonable temps, sunny days, and the lack of snow allowed more bouldering over Thanksgiving break than I've ever been able to get.  On Thursday, I spent the afternoon on rappel, brushing sandstone boulders near our project.  And on Friday, we went to climb them.
Our traverse project was good, but we didn't have any good warmups nearby.  At my age, if I warm up, and then pack up my things, and then hike for ten minutes, and then take out my things, and then get my shoes back on, on a cold day, it's like I never warmed up all.  I was excited to find a well featured overhanging wall just uphill from our project.  The two lines I brushed aren't just warm ups, they are proud warm ups.  The top outs turned out to be more committing than I expected.  Both lines are about V2, and the top outs are the cruxes.

The first line I named "Oh Sugar."     

 The second line climbs a couple yards to the right and is called "Ahh Honey, Honey."  Ashley climbed "Oh Sugar" and also did a traverse of the wall moving right from "Oh Sugar."  Well warmed up, we went straight to the project, but we didn't quite send it on Friday.

On Saturday, I made a long drive to get a tour of Neverland from Davin and Bryan.  Scott and Ken drove up from Colorado to see the area too, and it was nice to see them again.
After checking out the large, overhanging, featured roofs of Neverland at A Place of Legend and Mode of Passion it was finally time to check them out for real.  They lived up to my high expectations.
The area has incredible potential.
And great patina lines such as "Copperhead."
Unfortunately, the wind exceeded my expectations.  Greatly exceeded my expectations.  I've never experienced wind like that.  Maybe I've been in gusts, that approached the wind speeds we had on Saturday at Neverland, but this wind was an unrelenting roar.  Extreme and otherworldly.  We warmed up half out of it, but I still couldn't hear what anybody was saying, and couldn't enjoy the climbing like I wanted to.

This patina covered warm up was really nice.  In my experience, the windiest spots often have the best patina.

I don't think this classic has a name yet.
Scott climbing the patina.
Ken climbing the same line.
The hike back to the car was crazy.  It felt like my pad, was almost lifting me off the ground as we hiked against the wind.  I crawled under a low barbed wire fence rather than risk stepping over it.  Davin said that we'd be able to get out of the wind at Fingerpaint Cave, and we did.  Finally we were able to hear each other, catch up a bit, and climb some more good problems like "Triangle Man" and the end of "Fingerpaint."  I didn't take any photos, but you can check out the other blogs I mentioned for much more extensive posts from Neverland.

On Sunday, we went climbing again.  It was one of those special days when you think it will be too cold to climb, but you end up having perfect conditions instead.  While we warmed up on the "Oh Sugar" wall, Roo found a carcass to tear into.  And then the sun came out of the clouds.
Conditions were perfect, and I was extra motivated, knowing that this could possibly be the best last chance to send our project before snow hits the canyon.  On my first try, I swung off the end and missed all the pads.  On the second try, I gripped as hard as I could to make sure that I caught the swing.
And then just managed to have enough grip left for what usually feels like an easy top out.
It is an eliminate, but the only rule is that you don't bust up above the low seam until after you've rounded the corner.  My preferred start makes a difficult move out of a sit down start by locking off a left hand pocket to reach the rail.  Ashley couldn't make the reach on that move, so she started sitting on the rail five feet left, and finished that line.  Her start feels easier, but makes the end more pumpy.  I think both start variations are V7, and we named the line "November Sun."

Psyched after sending our project, we still had a freshly brushed line to try.  Features lead up the tall overhanging face, but the top out looked like it might be really difficult, so we decided to set up a toprope.  Features up top are such soft stone, I anchored with a long piece of webbing around a large aspen rather than trust gear under fragile plates.  My excitement turned to disappointment pretty quickly.  A perfect side pull flew off when I liebacked on it.  Then another perfect hold broke higher up.  The limestone like features are so sharp they puncture finger tips, and then even on top rope I couldn't figure out a way to top it out.  It might go for someone, but I don't predict that it will ever be a classic.
On the back of the same boulder is an established line I'd wanted to try since the first time I'd seen it.  Ashley and I were making quick progress.  I grabbed a high hold and was getting my feet established to go for the lip, when the entire brick sized feature I was gripping ripped off, just barely missing my head.  The problem was ruined.  So three good new problems got done last weekend, but one potential line wasn't what I'd hoped it would be, and another one fell apart.  My estimation of the area's stone quality got somewhat downgraded.  It looks a lot like Joes Valley, it feels like Joes Valley, often it even climbs like Joes Valley, but it isn't as solid as Joes Valley.
I'm still glad to have it though.  We had a great long weekend of bouldering, with an entire canyon to ourselves.
Thanks for the tour of Neverland Davin and Bryan!  We'll be back for another visit, one fine day.


Brian said...

Nice write-up Dave, glad you finally made it out to Neverland! That wind sure is something, especially down in the gap. That sandstone looks great too, sick sends!!

Lloyd Family said...

Thanks Brian. Your posts helped finally get me to Neverland. I hope you had a good break!

Davin said...

Yes, the wind was a roar even for Neverland! Hope it calms for your next visit.

Can't wait to see the new sandstone.